Red Delicious
Apples aren’t red. Apples are cold and crisp. I took a bite and someone sat down. This is Emmett, Sherri said. When Sherri went to the little girl’s room, Emmett asked me whether I knew he was Indian or not from his voice. I told him no. He sounded just like everyone else around here. I told him I knew he was Indian from the joke a boy made under his breath at the next table, about huffing gasoline, when Emmett came into the restaurant. He let me touch his face, so I could see his big Indian nose.

A week later, Emmett took my fingers and touched them to the area around my vagina. He put them against warm skin. “What colour is this?” he said. “Did anyone ever tell you?” His voice was so quiet. It was a pleasure to listen. “It’s bright, bright blue,” he said.

Emmett’s mother let him take the car once, to go for groceries. It had windows that you could roll down. I couldn’t get over it. When I was a little girl I used to roll and unroll the window when we went for Sunday drives. Now our car has electric windows. Everybody’s does. With a button, god knows what is happening. I like to feel the window move. I like to know. I rolled down the window and fastened my seatbelt. Then I rolled it back up again. Then I rolled it down.

The sun is bright, or the moon is bright. That is what people would tell me. This light is bright. Grapefruit insides are bright pink. I didn’t get it. I used to tell him that. It was frustrating. Like colours. I heard the click of his pocket knife. “This is bright,” Emmett said, and he cut my thumb.

Emmett had six apples in a bag, three each. We stood where I could hear the cars rushing down below. “Tell me when,” Emmett said. A car was coming. It rumbled, then wooshed. Another car: Rumble. One, two, Woosh. Another rumble, then, “Now,” I said. And we dropped six apples. Glass cracking and brakes squealing. I unfolded my cane, and later showed a man my blind card. We were the innocent blind girl and her doting boyfriend. “Are you sure you didn’t see anything?” the angry man asked. I felt Emmett’s protective arm around my shoulder. “Sir, I think that was in poor taste,” he said.

“Can you hear people’s hearts beating?” Emmett asked me. “Can you tell if they’re lying? If you lose one sense, your other senses compensate. You get super hearing.” I told him, “No, but people can change colour for me. When my mother broke her finger, she was pink, crashing around the house. Then she was suddenly green.” He pulls me closer in the front seat of his own mother’s car. “What color am I right now?” he whispers. He’s pulling at my belt. He’s violet. He’s rose. He’s orchid white.

The car roared up the hill and I felt heavy. Then all of a sudden I was floating. My stomach was somewhere below me. Then it was over. “That was blue,” Emmett said beside me. “That was what color the sky is.”

Emmett died in a car accident, someone told me outside the school. It was another one of his jokes. Oh no, Emmett is dead. I better throw my arms up and cry. He’s standing across the street, waving because he knows I can’t see.

They let me touch him before the funeral, so that I could say goodbye. It wasn’t him. They got the big nose right, but it was the wrong colour. Emmett’s mother said, “It didn’t feel real until I saw him.” I sat up straighter, expecting Emmett’s voice, “I felt that comment was in poor taste.” But all there was was the air conditioner and her wet breathing and red.

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It's Too Late to Say I'm Sorry is a new book of short stories by Joey comeau, to be released in North America in June by The Loose Teeth Press.

The Stories
   Patricia (The Coast)
   The Math Building
   1e4 (Eyeshot)
   This is Math
   Historians and Degenerates       (Strange Horizons)
   The Machine
      (Strange Horizons)

   Red Delicious
   XXX (The Coast)
   One Foot Underwater
   The Birthday Girl
   The Underwear Model
   Giraffes and Everything
   Where are You Off to Now?
      (Terminus 1525)
   Cry Me a River

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